All the year round, there’s sure to be an early Americanist on your gift list. Here are a few titles we’ve enjoyed, and a few to look forward to in 2014. Suggestions welcome!
Andrew Burstein, Lincoln Dreamt He Died: The Midnight Visions of Remarkable Americans from Colonial Times to Freud
Catherine A. Brekus, Sarah Osborne’s World: The Rise of Evangelical Christianity in Early America
It’s often said that we tell old stories to get new ones, a truth self-evident in my favorite of Pauline Maier’s many works, The Old Revolutionaries: Political Lives in the Age of Samuel Adams (1980). And everything I admire about her as a scholar rolls in with the first lines of that barefaced preface: “Let me confess at the outset that this book, though it answers some questions of the sort historians are trained to ask, has also been—and was meant from the outset to be—a personal adventure. I wanted to know better what it was to be an American of the late eighteenth century and to live through the American Revolution” (xiii). Maier’s prosopography of five men and their “worlds,” accentuated by a thoughtful “interlude” on the rigors of political life in the colonies, marked a change in how historians used individual biographies to retell the Revolution to post-bicentennial Americans. First given as a series of lectures at New York University in 1976, the essays gather a fairly random matrix of people for a group shot of colonial life: Samuel Adams, Isaac Sears, Dr. Thomas Young, Richard Henry Lee, and Charles Carroll. Few had appeared in solo biographies, and if they did, it was often in fairly dim light. In fewer than 300 pages, Maier promised to deliver the story of “not just why Americans made the Revolution, but what the Revolution did to them.” How to get at it? Continue reading
It’s been a busy week of headlines for early Americanists: to the links! Continue reading
Today’s guest post comes from Ben Wright, a doctoral candidate at Rice University, who focuses on religious conversion and early American antislavery. He is the co-editor of Apocalypse and the Millennium in the Era of the American Civil War (LSU, 2013), the editor of the Teaching United States History blog, and co-editor of The American Yawp.
Like many of you, I find myself teaching the first half of the U.S. history survey this fall. The first few times through the course, I used a textbook and appreciated the clear organizational structure and built-in pacing. Teaching with a textbook felt like teaching with training wheels, and I certainly needed them for my first few laps. But as my confidence grew, so did my desire to assign primary sources, articles, monographs, museum catalogs, and other readings. While I am impressed with the quality of many texts – Eric Foner’s Give Me Liberty, and Kevin Schultz’s HIST are among my favorites – I cannot justify assigning an (often outrageously) expensive textbook if it is not going to be the cornerstone of my course. But my course evaluations often include requests for textbooks, particularly among athletes or other students with serial absences. I have tried placing a textbook on reserve, but in the three semesters of doing so, no one has ever checked out the book. It seems like our discipline could use an affordable, synthetic safety net for students who would like one. Continue reading
Happy American Archives Month! This week, The Junto spoke with Molly O’Hagan Hardy, Digital Humanities Curator and ACLS Public Fellow at the American Antiquarian Society. Continue reading
Happy weekend, all…to the links! Continue reading
It’s a glorious fall in New England, and that means it’s time to scout out a few good reads for the snowy days ahead. Here’s a sampling of new releases and forthcoming titles in early American history that I plan to check out. What’s on your fall reading list? And what can you recommend for us to review here?
Today’s guest post comes from Nathan Jérémie-Brink, a Ph.D. student at Loyola University Chicago. His current research examines African-American print culture as it relates to religious and antislavery movements. Nathan also currently serves as the new media assistant for Common-place.
Sept. 19-21, 2013 marked the first annual conference of Historians Against Slavery, at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. It is true that very few historians today would endorse John C. Calhoun’s opinion that slavery was in history or is now “a positive good.” Even so, historians rarely consider the valuable role that our research, and our teaching may play in present-day antislavery movements. The fear of presentism remains an obstacle to the historian’s meaningful involvement in modern-day activism. Certainly, historians must avoid anachronistic descriptions of slavery that undermine the specific realities of the early-modern Atlantic world and the early American republic. But there ought to be openness in the academy and in the discipline to let the historical record elucidate comparisons or contrasts between slaveries of the past and the present. Continue reading
Here’s a roundup of early American art on special exhibit throughout the autumn. Please share your links and thoughts on using early American art in the classroom in the comments, below. Enjoy! Continue reading
Today’s guest post comes from Lauric Henneton, Associate Professor at the Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin and Vice Président of the Réseau pour le Développement Européen de l’Histoire de la Jeune Amérique (REDEHJA). Junto readers: Have you attended the Summer Academy of Atlantic History? Please share your reflections in the comments.